Forty pilots and tugboat captains at the Port of Limassol, Cyprus, have announced that beginning March 21, they will go on an indefinite strike in protest of the port's ongoing privatization. They claim that the final offer for the marine services portion of the concession was too low, and described the bid offer as "humiliating."
The winning bid for marine services entails a $565,000 starting fee, plus an additional $170,000 per year and a percentage of revenues.
The pilots and tug captains said that they generate $10 million annualy for the port, and that "destroying the port pilot service does not serve the public interest. On the contrary it only serves the private interests of those involved.” They pointed out that the winning bids for the other components of the privatization, the container terminal and the multipurpose terminal, were many times higher.
The strike will occur just ahead of a legislative vote that would finalize the privatization.
The two-year bidding process was finalized last month; fourteen bids were received in the tender, including six for the container terminal, three for marine services and five for the multipurpose terminal. A consortium comprised of lead partner EuroGate International, Interorient Navigation and East Med Holdings is to take over the container terminal's operations soon. Marine services will be provided by DP World, P&O Maritime and G.A.P. Vassilopoulos.
Strikes against privatization have occurred sporadically for the past several years, most recently including a 48-hour pilots' strike in January. The privatization of commercial operations at Limassol and Larnaca is a requirement of the 2013 bailout deal between Cyprus and its international creditors, similar to the ongoing of port privatizations in Greece.